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AdviceHey, Bonita!

Take Care of Yourself

Let me try this again.

I had a birthday during what was pretty much the worst week ever for a Black person in America to try to celebrate anything. I still made lemonade out of the situation and can count this birthday celebration amongst the most fun ones of my adulthood, but to do it against a backdrop of a political uprising was not easy. I imagine that all of you could sense my anger, sadness and frustration last week. I don’t think I’ve ever been less eloquent when trying to make a point on these pages, but I was bound to run out of steam at some point. I’m overwhelmed and tired, y’all. Watching the rest of the world get hip to a reality that I’ve been living in for decades is bittersweet, to say the least. 

I am in support of radical reform and will be spending my energy supporting the lawmakers, businesses and institutions that support Black lives, but beyond that, I am going to treat myself well. I encourage other people of color who are feeling bogged down emotionally, mentally and physically by all of this to prioritize your health and wellness because right now. My blowout birthday weekend was most certainly in that spirit. And I’ve always heard that the best revenge is living well, so I can’t imagine that racists and fascists would have been happy about a Black girl, her sibling and her sibling’s white spouse going on a North Georgia wine-tasting trip.

I believe that any overwhelmed Black person in Georgia deserves a cool wind and mountain views instead of the stress of dealing with racism or the pressure to carry this fight for others. Like I said, we did not invent racism, and we most certainly didn’t make it systemic to American life, so it’s OK if you’re unable to demonstrate for the cause.  One in four African Americans will experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime, but we’re also one of the least likely demographics to seek out mental health care. There’s even research into the links between experiencing racism and PTSD in African Americans, so personally I prefer not to put pressure on my brothers and sisters to fight all the time, to do the heavy lifting. Take a break, sis. Go to the mountains or something. And don’t be afraid to take any space or privacy that you need right now.

I say that because I’ve had an alarming amount of white people, unsolicited, in my DMs and text messages lately, asking if I’m OK or tsking at police brutality, or showing me their receipts for donating to Black Lives Matter, or assuring me that they set up monthly donations or just offering vague mea culpas for whiteness in general. 

I understand the desire to set oneself apart from despicable behaviors, and I understand wanting to support friends who might be personally impacted by an issue currently saturating pretty much all media right now. Still, it feels like a waste of a clay mask when I finish my evening skincare to find that a white friend has sent me an image of a cop beating the hell out of us with no more than an “omg” below it. I mean… why? I spent my whole day massaging the hate and pain out just to have a well-meaning “ally” blow my high.  

Racism is traumatizing, and I want allies to consider that when they approach people from these affected communities. Never forget that Google and libraries exist, and that you are not owed a conversation. And really, what is there to talk about anymore? What hasn’t been said? Now is the time for action, and I am so proud of our city and our demonstrators, plus the local conversations around police reform. I am proud of my ally friends being there for us, and I am proud of my people for staying strong in the face of so much violence, oppression and intimidation from the police state. I encourage all activists and people of color to take a nap today, to drink something cool and relax for a while. They hate it when we do that. Audre Lorde very famously spoke of the radical act of self-care, stating, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  

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